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New Horizons update: Resolving features on Charon and seeing in color

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/23 11:02 CDT | 14 comments

Only about three weeks remain until the flyby -- it's getting really close! I almost don't want the anticipation to end. New Horizons is now getting color images and is seeing features on Charon. Deep searches have yielded no new moons.

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Pluto and Charon spin among the stars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/16 08:10 CDT | 7 comments

I've spent a happy couple of days playing with raw data downloaded from the New Horizons website, making animations of the dances of Pluto and Charon.

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An enigmatic line across Pluto: Plutonian canali!?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/09 07:03 CDT | 17 comments

Pluto and Charon are growing larger in New Horizons' forward view, beginning to develop distinct personalities. A version of recent New Horizons photos processed by Björn Jónsson reveals an enigmatic dark line. Our maps of Pluto's surface are now as good as our maps of Mars and Venus, circa 1900!

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A (very) few more details on Pluto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/01 04:09 CDT | 9 comments

Last week the New Horizons mission released a few new processed versions of their latest and greatest images of Pluto. They're the best images of Pluto that Earth has ever seen, but they're still a long way from what New Horizons will be able to show us, six weeks from now.

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New Horizons spots Kerberos and Styx

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/05/12 05:56 CDT | 3 comments

New Horizons has now spotted every one of Pluto's satellites...all the ones we know about, that is.

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New Horizons sees surface features on Pluto, begins raw image release

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/29 08:06 CDT | 11 comments

Today the New Horizons team released a new animation of images taken on approach to Pluto. The animation clearly shows how Pluto wobbles around the Pluto-Charon barycenter. It also shows something more exciting to the scientists: variations in brightness across the surface of Pluto. They also began releasing raw images to the Internet.

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New views of three worlds: Ceres, Pluto, and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/16 03:17 CDT | 7 comments

New Horizons took its first color photo of Pluto and Charon, while Dawn obtained a 20-frame animation looking down on the north pole of a crescent Ceres.

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The Mapping of Pluto Begins Today

Posted by Mark Showalter on 2015/03/20 12:12 CDT | 7 comments

When New Horizons flies past Pluto in July, we will see a new, alien landscape in stark detail. At that point, we will have a lot to talk about. The only way we can talk about it is if those features, whatever they turn out to be, have names.

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New Horizons spots Nix and Hydra circling Pluto and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/18 11:43 CST | 4 comments

A series of images just sent to Earth from New Horizons clearly shows Pluto's moons Nix and Hydra orbiting the Pluto-Charon binary.

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New Horizons returns first images from mission's Pluto approach phase

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/04 03:14 CST | 10 comments

Here they are, the first images of Pluto from the approach phase of the New Horizons mission. Science has begun; we're on the home stretch!

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New camera improves a California near-Earth asteroid program

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/12/29 04:40 CST

A new camera is improving the efficiency of the Near-Earth Asteroid Program at the Center for Solar System Studies. This update from Shoemaker NEO Grant winner Bob Stephens reveals amazing recent progress using his 2013 Planetary Society grant.

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Finally! New Horizons has a second target

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/15 01:02 CDT | 19 comments

What a huge relief: there is finally a place for New Horizons to visit beyond Pluto. A team of researchers led by John Spencer has discovered three possible targets, all in the Cold Classical part of the Kuiper belt. One is particularly easy to reach. New Horizons would fly past the 30-45-kilometer object in January 2019.

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Twinkling worlds in motion: New Horizons' first optical navigation images of Pluto and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/07 02:31 CDT | 15 comments

What's that in the distance? A binary star? Those are two little round worlds dancing in circles, whirling around a point in space located between the two of them. It's Pluto and Charon, clearly separated by New Horizons' camera.

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Hubble to the rescue! The last-ditch effort to discover a Kuiper belt target for New Horizons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/17 11:59 CDT | 5 comments

Will New Horizons have a mission after Pluto? Ground-based searches have failed to turn up anything that New Horizons can reach. Now Hubble is joining the search, but time is running out: a discovery must be made within the next two months.

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Will we find signs of tectonics on Pluto? And what would that mean?

Posted by Joseph O'Rourke on 2014/05/26 09:45 CDT | 1 comments

Joseph O’Rourke summarizes a recently submitted paper on tectonic activity on Pluto after the Charon-forming impact.

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When will we know which is bigger, Pluto or Eris?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/30 12:11 CDT | 7 comments

We don't currently know whether Pluto is the biggest thing in the Kuiper belt or not. When will New Horizons give us the answer?

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This is the post where you can comment about the IAU planet definition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/30 12:09 CDT | 21 comments

An attempt to corral the discussion of the IAU planet definition in one place on planetary.org, so that we may be free to actually discuss Kuiper belt observations and scientific results on posts elsewhere on this site.

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Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 10: Trans Neptunian Objects including Pluto, KBOs, Comets

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/04/18 06:42 CDT

Explore the worlds beyond Neptune including Pluto, Kuiper Belt Objects and comets in this video of class 10 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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More excitement in the outermost solar system: 2013 FY27, a new dwarf planet

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/02 10:49 CDT | 6 comments

On the heels of last weeks reports of a second Sedna and a ringed Centaur comes a third cool outer solar system discovery: A new, likely large member of the Kuiper belt. With an absolute magnitude of about 3.0, the new object currently known as 2013 FY27 is the tenth brightest object beyond Neptune .

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Hangout on Air: Why yesterday was a good day for Solar System Science

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/27 11:52 CDT

On Wednesday, March 26, two important discoveries in the outer solar system were announced: the discovery of the second confirmed member of the Inner Oort Cloud (2012 VP113) and the discovery of rings around the planetesimal Chariklo. In a Hangout on Air, a rag-tag group of planetary scientists and astronomers active on Twitter talked about the discoveries.

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Pluto and Charon in color: LORRI + MVIC, June 25 & 27, 2015
Charon's progression: June 22 to July 1, 2015 (third-to-last Pluto day before New Horizons encounter)
Pluto's progression: June 22 to July 1, 2015 (third-to-last Pluto day before New Horizons encounter)
Conical mountain on Ceres
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